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DeKalb CEO named Georgia Public Library Champion of the Year

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DeKalb CEO named Georgia Public Library Champion of the Year

FILE PHOTO: CEO Michael Thurmond speaks during DeKalb County Government’s 39th annual MLK Celebration at the Maloof Auditorium in Decatur on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023. Photo by Dean Hesse.

DeKalb County, GA — DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Michael Thurmond was recognized on March 11 as the 2023 Georgia Public Library Champion of the Year.

“I am honored and humbled to be recognized as a champion for Georgia libraries,” Thurmond said in a press release. “These important institutions are among the principal building blocks of our American democracy.”

Alison Weissinger, director of DeKalb County Public Library, nominated Thurmond for the award, according to a press release.

“CEO Thurmond’s multifaceted support for the library, from recognizing the unique, hard work of staff; securing vital funding and resources; and advocating for employee well-being, truly sets him apart as a Georgia Public Library Champion of the Year,” Weissinger said. “His influence is not only felt today, but will leave a lasting legacy for years to come.”

CEO Thurmond was recognized for his support of the DeKalb County Public Library throughout his tenure as CEO, which included:

– Raising wages, updating staff salary ranges, and enacting frontline pay for all library employees during the pandemic, which increased retention and supported career advancement.

– Restoring increased operating hours to the library system, including budget approval for extended night and weekend access to branches.

– Increasing funding for books and materials back to $2 million in 2018, which allowed the DeKalb Library Foundation to allocate funds to other initiatives such as expanding Wi-Fi hotspot services and literacy programs, including 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten and the Summer Reading Program.

– Advocating for the inclusion of the library in the county’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendums. This will result in $13.8 million to finance building renovations and other improvements.

CEO Thurmond is an avid reader and author of three nonfiction books of history, including “Freedom: Georgia’s Antislavery Heritage, 1733-1865,” which was awarded the Georgia Historical Society’s Lilla Hawes Award. His latest book, “James Oglethorpe, Father of Georgia,” was released in February 2024.

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